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Genesee Valley Conservancy receives key funding for nature-based climate change solutions

Genesee Valley Conservation has acquired 900 feet of frontage along Honeoye Creek
Genesee Valley Conservation

Genesee Valley Conservation
Genesee Valley Conservation has acquired 900 feet of frontage along Honeoye Creek

The Genesee Valley Conservancy has received a grant from The Nature Conservancy for an initiative known as the "Resilient Connected Network." The project is partially dedicated to creating a "natural highway" that will bolster wildlife conservation and enable safe animal migrations amidst the challenges of climate change.

This initiative, aimed at creating a protected area for wildlife, also promises substantial benefits for people, including access to clean drinking water, flood control, and enhanced recreational opportunities.

Ben Gajewski, Executive Director of the Genesee Valley Conservancy, highlighted the importance of the $50,000 grant in supporting a critical conservation project in Richmond, which is in Ontario County. The Conservancy has acquired 200 acres, comprising mostly wetlands and some upland areas, in the Honeoye Creek watershed north of Honeoye Lake. This land will eventually be transferred to New York State to expand an existing wildlife management area.

Gajewski emphasized the significance of the wetland complex, especially in the context of increasingly frequent major storm events.

"This is a natural solution to accommodating those larger-than-usual rainfalls and events to help minimize flooding and damage in the communities," Gajewski said.

The funding from The Nature Conservancy is instrumental in facilitating the acquisition and maintenance of this land until it can be integrated into the state's wildlife management area.

The Nature Conservancy, a national nonprofit organization, provided funding through its Climate Resilience Grant Program. Over its first three years, this program has protected more than 8,000 acres across New York state, focusing on leveraging nature-based solutions to combat climate change.

Gajewski also noted that the projects funded by The Nature Conservancy are selected based on several criteria, including the connectivity and location of the land.

"Is it in an area that is being used as a wildlife corridor, and does it connect with other open space properties to make it easier for wildlife to move throughout and around our communities?" he asked, underlining the strategic importance of the land in question.

The "Resilient Connected Network" initiative is not only about establishing a safe habitat for wildlife but also about ensuring human benefits such as clean water access, flood risk management, and the enhancement of recreational spaces. This project is particularly crucial for the safe migration of land animals as they adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Through this grant, the Genesee Valley Conservancy is poised to play a pivotal role in addressing environmental challenges while providing community-centric benefits.

Jasmin Singer is the host of WXXI’s Weekend Edition and Environmental Connections, as well as a guest host for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Connections.